The Cyneweard

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Part I - Bringer of Storms :: 3

Lilly's Leaping Laporine pub was abuzz with the talk of death. All sorts of death.

A baler had been mangled to death on the same day that Priest Dumdhall had been murdered and two royal corpses had been dug up in the House of Humbolt's garden. The long dead were a mystery and exciting to the crowd. They focused on that as hard as they could.

Greer overheard most, if not all, of the talk in the place. He had keen ears and was always able to pick out the interesting bits of crowded conversation.

"Watcher have your ear to the air again?" asked a young and attractive feline waitress, her silky gray fur matted from the humidity of the place. Greer knew her as Leona, though she often just went by Le or Na.

"You could say that, Le."

"Lotta stuff happening. Has to be more exciting than you're used to."

The Protector shrugged. "I guess. The Watcher is on high alert. Doesn't think we're done with the priest. Grand Watcher wanted the report in person. Wouldn't take a courier'd report on it."

"That where Wilcox is?"

Greer nodded and took a sip of the berry juice in front of him. "Yeah. Just me today."

She grinned. "You gonna finally get to use that slugthrower of yours."

Greer switched in his seat, once again aware of the chunk of metal holstered to his hip. "Certainly hope not."

"Nice catching up. I see Lilly gazing me daggers. I'll catch up later."

He nodded and took another sip as he watched her slink away to another table.

The Sigil had long been a force in his life. He had been saved by a Sigil member in the Siege of Millewhist. His father had joined the Sigil after moving his family to the Chop and risen up the ranks to become the Watcher of the Sash district. Now he had his own chance to make his mark on the Sigil.

"Why'd they call you the Sigil again? Remind me."

Greer was shaken from his reverie by a graveled voice. He put a hand on his slugthrower and turned to face the newcomer.

"Calm down and take your hand away. Chamatri wouldn't like your quick-to-thrower attitude, Mr. Greer."

The lawman frowned as Scythe sat down at the table across from him.

"Mr. Worthington," Greer spat through clenched teeth, feigning a tip of his hat.

"Now you know I don't go by that much. And what's with the hostility? Here I bring you a present and you're all hostile at me."

"Don't take it out here."

Scythe grinned, revealing his green-stained teeth through a pair of sun-beaten lips. The half-Hume, half-Orc bellowed in laughter.

"You think they care?" he asked, waving a large hand towards the bar. Lilly, the owner and head bartender, had turned her attention to the table. Greer felt a stone of guilt drop into his throat.

"Not here," he replied firmly. "The Sigil doesn't do business here."

"The Sigil does it's business wherever. You just, what, stamp a seal on things?" Scythe let out another howl of laughter. Lilly had set down the glass she was drying and was inching towards the edge of the bar closest to Greer's table.

"Scythe, you know Lilly won't take that sort of transaction going on in here."

"Show some backbone Greer," came a new voice. Both men turned to see who had entered the fray.

Lilly stood at the table next to them. She was tall, made to look even taller by her long ears. She had white fur and deep pink eyes that could entice the sun to come down for a closer look. But right now, those eyes were suspicious.

"You tell 'em, bunny lady," Scythe said, still laughing.

She scowled, baring her larger-than-average front teeth. "Buy a drink or get out."

Scythe's face fell into a sneer. "That how you talk to a paying customer?"

"You've paid me no money." Lilly's scowl grew deeper. "Greer, escort this filth from my bar."

Greer looked at her, searching for her resolve.

"Now," she yelled.

"Guess we'll have to do this elsewhere, Greer." Scythe grunted as he stood up. The Protector noticed a bag tied to the hunter's hip. It was dripping blood onto the floor.

"Out," Lilly huffed, pointing towards the exit door.

Greer tipped his hat as he sat up.

"Don't bother with the formalities, Greer. I blame you for this," replied Lilly.

Scythe laughed and stepped out of the bar. Rain was still falling in heavy sheets and leaving a river of mud on just about every surface.

Greer stepped out, adjusted his hat, and motioned Scythe across the street.

"Usual place then," the half-breed said with a laugh.

"You are enjoying this too much," Greer replied as they walked into the rain. "I'm about to have to pay you alot, aren't I?"

"Yessir."

Greer sighed and jogged ahead to prop open the door to the Sigil office for Scythe.

The bounty hunter offered an overacted tip of his hat brim. "Much obliged," he said, another laugh tickling at the corners of his words.

"Scythe."

Watcher Wilcox rose from behind his desk as the tall bounty hunter strode in, dripping all over the thin wooden floor.

"I'd shake your hand but I'm afraid I'd step away in shackles," Scythe replied to Wilcox.

The Watcher shot a look to his subordinate, who mouthed a "Sorry," and then cleared his desk of paper work. Beneath the now-removed writing pad was a large, dark stain. Wilcox tapped the spot.

Scythe nodded and ripped the red-soaked burlap back from his hip. He dropped it onto the desk.

"Papers," Wilcox answered in a measured, practiced tone.

The bounty hunter reached into his coat and pulled a folded, yellowed piece of parchment. The Watcher took it, unfolded it, and looked over it.

"Four hundred gold? This is murderer money."

Scythe grinned and nodded. "Gold's much better than script."

"No shit," Wilcox deadpanned and nodded to the bag. "Open it."

With one swift motion, Scythe pulled a smaller version of his namesake from his coat, slashed open the bag's top, and stowed the weapon. He grabbed the sack and yanked it down from each side. A young man stared back at the Watcher, his face forever frozen in the look it took in the man's last moment.

"Looks like him," Wilcox said, comparing the face to the drawing on the wanted paper. "Says a gold tooth, fang top left."

Scythe used a finger to lift the man's upper lip. Wilcox nodded and looked at his subordinate.

"Four hundred gold. Pay him."

Greer sighed and moved to the back of the office, opened a door, and shut and locked it behind him. Wilcox pulled his slug thrower and aimed it from the hip at Scythe.

"You know how this goes."

Scythe squinted at the lawman but nodded his understanding. "Still don't like being aimed at."

The Protector returned with large, rattling sack. He grimaced as he handed the money over to the bounty hunter.

Scythe put his index finger to his temple and waved it at both men in thanks.

"Take the head," Wilcox instructed.

The bounty hunter frowned, picked up the head, and exited the office.

"Why do we put up with the likes of him?" Greer exhaled as he sat behind his own desk.

Wilcox started to wipe down the spot where the head had been placed. "So we don't have to do what he does. The Sigil doesn't have the man power in the Chop to chase down every murderer, rapist, or thief."

"But Scythe kills them."

"A valid option for the harsher offenders." Wilcox patted at the spot, deemed it clean with a nod, and then began replacing his papers.

"Meeting in Cobblestone go well?"

"Not really. Grand Watcher doesn't like momentos of the past being dug up, especially those with the old Sigil seal on them."

Greer nodded. The Sigil were born from the law-keeping force employed by the Empire long before the Rebellion. The force was disbanded in favor of martial law and rule across the lands. Wasn't very favorable to the common folk or the out-of-work lawmen. They banded under their old name, ripped off their Imperial Seal badges in ceremony, and took an oath not to take a side. They were to be the protectors of the people. The Empire didn't like this and soon made an enemy of the peace force it had once employed.

Greer sighed. "So what happens?"

"I'm going to assume the corpses will be turned over to the Church or the Machinist group and disposed of accordingly.

"Seems a bit harsh."

"We're not far removed from the conflict, Greer. Not many people here in the Chop want to be reminded of all that."

"And of the priest killer?"

"That's more cut and dry. We keep digging."

"We don't have much to go on."

"True, but the thing about murderers is this: they usually don't stop at one."

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